Friday, May 14, 2010

I Touched a Nerve

By Chuck McKay
"You sir, are a fool and an idiot," said the first email.

Hey, at least I'm multitasking.
Another one began, "After reading your column I believe a more appropriate sobriquet might be Head Up Rectum."
Congratulations, Captain Vocabulary. I had to look that one up. "Sobriquet" means "nickname." Of course, you can't say "nickname" because that doesn't sound pompous enough. 
This is just a small sample from quite a few messages I received in response to my recent column "Immigration: Ruining America Since 1607," in which I criticized the new Arizona law that allows police to arrest "suspected" illegal immigrants simply for not having ID with them.
I guess I touched a nerve. 
Nearly all of those who wrote in attacked me for being a bleeding heart sympathizer of law-breaking scum, which shows that people who are pone to launching angry, insulting emails into cyberspace are not the same people who are adept at close reading. My column focused on the impact of the law on legal immigrants - U.S. citizens who look and sound different from white people, but are not breaking any laws.
Even though race is not supposed to be a factor in deciding who is a "suspected" illegal immigrant, I have a hard time believing this law won't disproportionately impact Latinos. Just a hunch.
One reader suggested that racial profiling is perfectly OK, which is a very logial position to take as long as you're not among the race being profiled.
Captain Vocabulary, on the other hand, would have us live in a country where everyone talks the same, so that we can all get along. "A polyglot society leads to suspicion and estrangement," he said. Then how do you explain all the suspicion and estrangement between two Anglophile white guys in Maine who have never even met in person? It takes more than a language barrier to get people snippy with each other.
Another writer criticized me for not being a lawyer. I guess non-lawyers aren't allowed to have opinions about laws.  

My previous column also argued that offering driving tests in lots of different languages is a perfectly reasonable and fair thing to do.

People could not believe I could say such a thing. The best argument against my position came from a man who said other countries, such as Germany, don't make accommodations for immigrants; they expect people to take driving tests in German.

This was a pretty compelling point, except for being absolutely false.  Less than five minutes of research about German driving laws revealed that the German government is happy to let you cruise the Autobahn as long as you hold a valid license from pretty much any country.

If you do need to take their driving test, it is offered in lots of different languages, including English.

So, overall, not a great showing from the Tea Party nuts in their attempt to flood my inbox. Do they all live in a Fox News cave of skewed logic and propaganda, or just the ones who have the debate skills and social decorum of a Doberman pinscher?

Is it possible we've blown this problem out of proportion?  People have been moving to our country illegally for generations. In spite of this gargantuan injustice, we've certainly done okay as a nation. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to enforce immigration laws, but you have to wonder how much of this intense reactivity is warranted. Don't we have larger problems?

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